In the midst of a Covid-19 surge that’s seen tens of thousands of new positive cases wallop the state of New York, major museums in New York City are beginning to adjust their protocols to handle the deluge. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that effective today, the institution will reduce visitor capacity; the announcement also warns potential visitors to expect longer lines and wait times outside the museum itself. Additionally, the Met has decided to close down dining services from Thursday, December 23 and onward. It appears that other major museums in New York, including the Guggenheim, MoMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art have yet to implement similar restrictions.
Back in 2020 as the pandemic first began, the Met launched a campaign to implore Congress to extend relief to the arts, but eventually landed on predictions of $150 million in lost revenue and laid off, furloughed or retired 20% of its staff.
The Met certainly isn’t the only museum to face hardships during the Covid-19 outbreak — a 2020 study found that 67% of American museums had to cut education programming during the pandemic, and another report determined that a stunning one out of three museums in the U.S. were in danger of shutting down forever due to Covid-19 woes — but the major museum has continued to draw a high degree of scrutiny.
On Tuesday, a former part-time employee at the Met who’d recently quit their job told Observer that they’d made the decision to leave because better work could be found elsewhere, and at better rates. “The production and venue operations are being neglected by upper management,” the former employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told Observer. “It hasn’t been an easy place to work at these past few years.”
“Recently the museum gave out end-of-year bonuses to most staff except the part time workers in my union [Local 306],” the former employee continued. “Two of my coworkers consistently work 35+ hours a week but do not get any full time benefits, and I know a lot of people feel like they can do their work from home but are still asked to come to the office to attend mostly virtual meetings.”